Adam Graham's Blog: Christians and Superheroes - Posts Tagged "submariner"

Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age All-Winners, Vol. 1Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age All-Winners, Vol. 1 by Joe Simon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This Masterworks Collection Covers stories Published in the quarterly All Winners Comics from 1941-42.

Each comic features stories from five superheroes with no team up as happened in other comics such as the All Star Comics. All four issues feature the original Human Torch, Captain America and Bucky, and Sub-mariner. The first issue features the Angel and the Black Marvel. The last three issues improve this by featuring the Destroyer and the Whizzer

And perhaps, it's best to start with the Characters from my favorite to the least favorite:

The Destroyer: One of Stan Lee's earliest creations and according to comic historians, his most popular character prior to the Fantastic Four. The premise was brilliant. Most every hero for every company lent some type of hand to the war effort. However Keene Marlowe would fight the Nazis from behind enemy lines as the Destroyer. The three Destroyer stories in this book were by far, the most thrilling surprise in the book. The concept is brilliant and nearly flawlessly executed.

Captain America: Cap is the same as in his own magazine. So if you like Captain America Magazine, you'll love these stories as well. He and Bucky face their usual blend of spies and seemingly supernatural foes giving the stories a patriotic Scooby Doo feeling.

Namor: The mighty Sub-mariner is quite a bit different in these books than the broody anti-hero of the Silver Age. Here, he's glib, almost wise-cracking as he deals with his foe. While originally a pure anti-hero, Namor is fighting on the side of the angels for the duration, though some of the anti-hero tendencies show up in the third issue when he fights pirates and kills one of them underseas, then insists after securing the treasure the owners had been seeking and defeated the pirates demanded a cut for the owner but the cut was to go into defense bonds, so it was all good.

The Human Torch: Really, non-plused about this hero. His adventures were nothing special, kind of average overall.

The Angel: Character has a pretty good reputation, but the one story here didn't impress me.

The Whizzer: Stories range from below average in All Winners #2 to nearly incomprehensible in All Winners #4. The Whizzer is none too bright and unlike DC and the Flash, Timely didn't make much of its speedster hero.

The Black Marvel: The one advantage of the Whizzer was that his stories were still not as weak as the Black Marvel's.

Overall thoughts on the book:

This book contains some early work by eighteen to nineteen year old Stan Lee including two two-page text stories which put all the characters together. In Issue 1, they put on an exhibition for a young reader and Issue 2, Marvel's big 3 (Captain America, Namor, and Torch) petition the editors to allow The Whizzer and the Destroyer in the book. The stories are more precocious than enlightening. Still, it's amazing to think Lee has been in this industry for 70 years.

The book had pretty standard themes for the day with the heroes facing a mix of typical hoods and Nazi and Japanese spies. There are a lot of patriotic moments, particularly in the Captain America and Destroyer stories.

The series suffered some in issues 3 and particularly 4, as budget cuts led to people being hired who clearly didn't understand the character. In one part of the Namor Story in Issue 4, Namor has to take refuge at a house during a storm. Strange behavior for someone who lives underwater. And then there's the aforementioned Whizzer story.

The stories include the requisite Golden Age Cheesiness. In the first Destroyer story, the Destroyer walks into a German Citizen and says, "Where's the nearest concentration camp?" In Issue 3's Sub-mariner Story, Namor chides pirates for not knowing about him, by advising them they should be reading Marvel Comics.

Overall, the stories are fun, but they're a step below from the stories produced by DC and predecessor companies in the same era. Still, makes a great collection for fans of Stan Lee, Captain America, and Namor, also for those who want to meet the coolest World War II superhero you never heard of, The Destroyer.




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Published on March 11, 2013 19:44 • 172 views • Tags: captain-america, human-torch, submariner
Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age All-Winners, Vol. 4Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age All-Winners, Vol. 4 by Bill Finger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This final of All Winners Comics collects Issues 15-19, 21 and Vol. 2, Issue 1 collecting issues from 1945 and '46 and the series 1948 revival.

The writing and art for the first four issues was far from great in Issues 15-18. The first three issues featured stories with the Sub-mariner, Captain America, and the Whizzer. The Human Torch who was the other member of Marvel's big 3 was left out due to printing restrictions during the war, but returned in Issue 18. The Sub-Mariner's face had become ridiculous with a shape that was a lot like a slice of Pizza. The stories with the most potential in these first few issues were actually the Whizzer which could have been a lot of fun if they weren't hastily wrapped up in 8 pages.

But, the reason to read this book was Issue 19 which featured Marvel's first superhero team: The All-Winners Squad with Captain America, Namor, the Human Torch, the Whizzer, and Miss America together in one adventure. In a way that illustrated that even in 1946, Marvel was quite different from DC, this first adventure begins with the Human Torch accusing Namor of false-dealing and Namor and the Torch's sidekick Toro storming out in a huff. Yeah, that's the Marvel way of having a superhero team.

Like many of the All Star Comics and Leading Comics stories, the All Winners Sqaud followed a pattern where individual heroes would have an adventure and then team back up at the end. The Sub-mariner/Toro adventure was probably the highlight of the issue as Namor was particularly anti-social and the two had contrasting powers. The overall adventure was fun, solid, but could just as easily been a Seven Soldiers of Victory story or All Star Squad.

There was no Issue 20 and Roy Thomas speculate on why in his always-enlightening introduction, but Issue 21 features another All-Winners Squad adventure. This time the Squad faces a scientist from the future who plans to depopulate 20th Century earth to make way for his own people. In some ways, this calls to be mind the Silver and Bronze Age encounters with Kang the Conqurer.

This story requires a little more suspension of disbelief as the Futureman sets to go to each continent. We have to believe that the All Winners Squad will find him in time, but it's the Golden Age of comics and believing is what it's all about.

All Winners went out of business and relaunched in August 1948 without the squad but with stories from each of the big three: Namor, Captain America, and Human Torch, as well as a new comer the Blonde Phantom. The Namor story was a nice little detective episode and Namor's face was not so unnaturally triangular anymore. The Cap story was fine and a lot of fun. It was the type of lighter golden age fare that Batman and Superman enjoyed but I'd never seen from cap between fighting Nazis and the Horror comics. The Torch story was just a standard crime affair. In his introduction, Roy Thomas states that the Blonde Phantom was meant to compete with Wonder Woman and he compared her to a female Batman. To me she looks more like a combination of Quality's Phantom Lady and Will Eisner's Lady Luck. Either way, she wasn't headliner material.

Overall, this is a mixed book. The early story are unremarkable and show the dearth of quality available during the war. The All Winners Squad stories are firsts for the Marvel universe and well-worth the read. And Volume 2, Issue was a noble attempt to keep Superheroes alive that sadly didn't work out.

The Roy Thomas intro is exhaustive and educational, so overall, it's a collection worth reading.



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Published on December 18, 2013 17:49 • 100 views • Tags: captain-america, golden-age, human-torch, submariner
Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Sub-Mariner - Volume 1Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Sub-Mariner - Volume 1 by Bill Everett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


If you're looking for pre-US entry into World War II heroes fighting Nazis, this collection is for you.

This book collects Issues 1-4 of the Golden Age Submariner comic with each comic being 60 pages long.Unlike other books, which were filled with back up features, each issue featured two Submariner stories and one Angel story.

The Sub-mariner had been around for a while and actually was the last of Timely's big three to get his own book. The Sub-mariner was an erratic character who would go from being a friend of humanity in one issue to attacking them in the next, to deciding to fight Nazis, and then deciding the whole war thing was kind of stupid.

Bill Everett really comes up with a memorable story for Issue 1 as the Nazis attack Atlantis and killing the Emperor (later ret-conned to a severe injury that put into a severe coma). While in the real world, attacking Russia was the Nazi's big tactical mistake, it's safe that bombing Atlantis had to be the Nazi's biggest blunder in the Marvel universe as Sub-mariner declares war right back on Germany. The first three issues are packed with Sub-mariner fighting the Nazis with Issue 3 featuring Sub in a great mystery adventure story with Nazis and Irish druids that time forgot. Issue 4 features more traditional mystery/light horror stories. All of them are very well-written and the art is a notch above most golden age stories.

What makes Sub-mariner so interesting is that he's not really an anti-hero but he's very alien in his values and priorities. He's not an assassin but he has little compunction about destroying an enemy, particularly Nazis. He's also concerned with Atlantis more than surface dwellers. In the second story in Issue 1, Sub-mariner, captures Nazis who'd stolen radium from a hospital in New York but returned the radium to the sea to save his own angel.

The Angel was the sub-mariner's back up character and while I'm not usually a fan of the character, his appearances is this book are probably the best I've seen as the twenty-page format helps to turn out a quality story. These remain strictly in the Mystery/Horror genre. The best Angel story I've read is in here with issue 3's "The Angels Draw a Comic Strip," featuring an utterly insane villain enslaving a staff of a comic book with the Angel undercover as a comic artist. I will admit it's still a mystery as to why he wears the costume. He says he's a private detective and I guess a blue unitard with wings is what fits in.

Beyond the two stars, there are some interesting text stories including one by a young Stan Lee. Overall, this is just a great volume and with it now in paperback, it's very well-priced. So i strongly recommend.



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Published on August 15, 2014 19:36 • 149 views • Tags: golden-age, submariner
Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Heroes, Vol. 2Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Heroes, Vol. 2 by John Romita Sr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


By 1954, a few short years after Superhero books flourished during World War II, only three major heroes were left standing, DC Comics' Big 3: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. This book continues to look at the revival of Marvel's Golden Age Big Three during the mid-1950s for Captain America, the original Human Torch, and Sub-mariner.

This book collects stories from Men's Adventure #27 and #28, an anthology book featuring all three heroes and then Captain America #76-78 and Human Torch #36-#38 (with Atlas opting to continuing from golden age numbering.)

Here's a look at how each hero played out:

1) "Captain America, Commie Smasher" it's a beautifully politically incorrect cover that Marvel does its best to explain away through retcons mainly because it contradicts their continuity of Cap being in suspended animation after World War II until awakened by the Avengers.

At any rate, the concept is great but Cap fares the worst in this book. The seven page anthology stories in "Men's Adventures" were both pretty good, but Cap's tales in his own magazine were far weaker.

The problem is that while Sub-Mariner and Human Torch could just do what they'd been doing during the War, but the Captain America/Secret identity as a private identity wasn't something they could go back to. In 18-20 page Golden Age stories, you could goof around with that, but in a six page story, this element just distracted.

As a result of this unnecessary padding, the Captain America stories ended up rushed with even good concepts not being given decent space to develop. Ideas like the Chinese Communists blackmailing Chinese Americans, the Communists bringing to kill their own POWs for propoganda purposes, Cap fighting a green monsters with a hammer and sickle on its chest, or a plot to subvert through a sleeper agent could have been good stories if developed.

As it is, the Cap stories feature early art by John Romita who would distinguish himself with so many characters including the Amazing Spider-man.

The Submariner stories are good for the most part, although his role in the book is limited to the Men's Adventure comics and back-up features in the Human Torch books, Namor is pretty much the same as during the golden age: He's prince of Atlantis and mostly gets involved in human affairs with reluctance, but does when he has to. The most insane story in the book features the Sub-mariner trying to stop Half Man/Half Octopi from blowing up Europe. There's also an attempt at a ghost tale which is a bit weird. The introduction promised more Sub-mariner in Volume 3.

The Human Torch stories are probably the best in the book and make up the plurality of the book. The Torch tales really run a gamut of genres: There's crime, cold war spy dramas, and classic 1950s era Sci Fi tales about the dangers of prejudice. There's even a story where (in the style of the Golden Age Superman), the Torch helps a young pilot that lacks confidence through his power of invisibility (which he never had before this book and would never have again.) Really, everything is a lot of fun throughout.

The one flaw in the book is that writers did seem to keep forgetting that the original Human Torch wasn't actually human, but an android. The worst example is an unpublished Human Torch tale that was reprinted in this collection and features the Human Torch giving his actually human buddy Toro a blood transfusion. I'd like to think that someone had the strip withdrawn due to its glaring inaccuracy, and not that if Captain America had had an issue 79, this story would have gone in it.

There's a great introduction by Roy Thomas which always make a collection more enjoyable. In addition, I also have to say that this is one reprint volume where the two page text stories (required to be in comics to meet postal regulation requirements of the day) are actually quite good, with some good storytelling and clever twists across a variety of genres but mostly these are adventure tales.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable volume and it's too bad their weren't more of these stories made. Despite the limitations of length, they were fun reading. Alas, though, the Marvel age was still seven years away.



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Published on September 12, 2015 22:43 • 105 views • Tags: atlas-age, captain-america, submariner
Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Heroes, Vol. 3Marvel Masterworks: Atlas Era Heroes, Vol. 3 by Bill Everett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects the brief revival of the Sub-mariner in his own comic from Issues 33-42.

The bulk of the comic stories feature the Sub-mariner. Original artist Bill Everett to draw all the Sub-mariner stories an the art in this book is absolutely superb and a cut above most Silver Age art. The stories are mostly well-written.

In the Silver Age, comic books would become obsessed with telling what Superheroes did during their childhood, ranging from the often weak tales of Aquaman and Wonder Woman to the epic Asgard tales of young Thor and Loki. Everett was ahead of his time in the mid-1950s, from Issue 35-42 we get eight tales looking at adventures of Namor as a child and they're far above the quality of most Silver Age stories. (Though not quite as epic as Thor's.)

The adult stories were mostly fun tales of the Sub-marienr taking on criminals, commies, and an alien here or there. The biggest problem I had with those stories was some of the consistency. For the first half of the book, Sub-mariner was the friend of surface people and tried to thwart his evil Stepbrother's attempts to start trouble. Then the Emperor of Atlantis powers him up and orders him to declare war on the surface people and he does lackadaisically, half-heartedly, and at times a disregard for lives, and then towards the end, the war is dropped. It's weird because the reason this book was kept going while Captain America and Human Torch were cancelled was because they planned on making a TV series out of Sub-mariner. Hard to do that with someone trying to wipe out mankind.

Other than that betrayal of the character and a few stories hindered by the rigid space requirement, the stories were all enjoyable.

The Human Torch appears in three back upstories and they're okay if unremarkable. Probably the best story is in Issue #33 which has the Torch taking on weird alien creatures. The art is really fun on that one. The other two involve a plague outbreak, and an attempt to frame the Human Torch.

After the Torch leaves, the back up feature becomes sea-based and doesn't feature recurring characters. The ones involving people at sea are good, but the four nature comics that center on the struggle of a sea creature features outstanding art and some great action as the they fight for their lives.

The text stories are okay. They're forgettable but will pass a couple minutes and allowed the comic company to ship out a lower rate.

The rare comics reprinted are a joy with solid artwork and enjoyable stories. Recommended for any fan of comic history or Namor.



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Published on February 20, 2017 22:28 • 43 views • Tags: atlas-age, marvel, submariner
Namor Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 2Namor Visionaries: John Byrne, Vol. 2 by John Byrne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book collects Issues 10-18 of John Byrne's 1990s Namor Series and has four stories therein:

Issues #10-#12: The Invaders Fight Again: West and East Germany are reuniting as the Cold War ends but that leaves Namor (and to an extent) Captain America nervous about a possible resurgence by Nazis. Namor goes to Berlin to investigate and discovers that Masterman is already part of such a contingency and has captured the original Human Torch (Jim Hammond) as part of the scheme. Whe Namor himself is captured, he'll need some help from some old friends. Overall, a great story that serves as a very good reunion for the Invaders with so many wonderful and fun moments.

Issue #13: Trial of the Sub-Mariner: A necessary story that has the Marvel Universe dealing with Namor's behavior during the Silver Age. It rehashes quite a bit as well as cutting to stuff that will be dealt with later, but also helps set things up so that Namor can be used in other ways (such as being an Avenger) without having the absurdity of not dealing with the fact he tried to wipe out New York City.

Issue #14: A Child is Waiting: Phoebe Marrs reveals a lot about herself and her feelings to Namor. It's a well-developed back-story but is hindered by a fight with a griffin that turns out to be superflous.

Issues 15-18: Namor returns to where Atlantis relocated when he receives word that is long-believed-dead wife Dorma is alive. However, before he can be really sure he has to go to the Savage Lands to investigate what's heating Atlantis where he runs into a battle with the apparently resurrected Danny Rand (AKA Iron Fist.) Some problems with this, mainly that they spent too long in the book setting this up and Misty Knight's behavior is hard to understand. Still, this is a pretty good story.

Overall, a big step up from the first volume, with all the issues being well-characterized and the Invaders story being absolutely brilliant. Well-worth reading.



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Published on November 12, 2018 22:53 • 34 views • Tags: john-byrne, namor, submariner

Christians and Superheroes

Adam Graham
I'm a Christian who writes superhero fiction (some parody and some serious.)

On this blog, we'll take a look at:

1) Superhero stories
2) Issues of faith in relation to Superhero stories
3) Writing Superhe
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